Eddie Redmayne may be an Oscar winner now, but Ian McKellen has revealed that the actor had auditioned for a part in his 1995 movie Richard III, and he did not get through.
McKellen co-wrote, co-produced and starred in titular role in the British drama film directed by Richard Loncraine. Richard III was adapted from William Shakespeare’s play of the same name.
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The 76-year-old actor, who was speaking at a special screening of the film here last evening, said choosing the perfect cast was a challenge and quipped that in the process he had missed casting The Theory of Everything star.
“We missed the chance, when we were auditioning little kids for the film... A little boy came along and I met him not long ago. He said we have met before. I said ‘oh really we did?’ He said ‘yes sir I came and auditioned and you didn’t give me the part. So I happen to turn down Eddie Redmayne’s first job,” McKellen said.
The actor, best known for playing Gandalf in The Lord Of The Rings, is in Mumbai to promote the British Film Institute’s Shakespeare Lives on Film — a global programme in honour to mark the playwright’s 400th death anniversary.
McKellen has performed Shakespeare’s plays like Macbeth and Othello at the Royal Shakespearean Company and the Royal National Theatre. The actor says he is “more proud” of Richard III and feels the work of the legendary writer can transform well on screen.
“I think I am more proud of this piece of work than anything else I’ve done. May be because it still exists, there are others too like Macbeth which still exist. But Shakespeare works well on screen. You can do it in many ways. Without words, in Hindi or Japanese,” he said.
McKellen, who plays Magneto in the X-Men movies, also spoke about how he had famously returned his 50,000 pounds fee to complete the filming of the final battle sequence in Richard III.
“My fee was fifty thousand pounds to play Richard III, to produce it and to write the screenplay. And in the last week of the shoot, Richard (Loncraine) said I am sorry but we can’t film the battle scene, we don’t have enough money. We need another day, we can’t finish the film. He said we need fifty thousand pounds. So I did it for nothing,” he said.
MAMI Film Club has partnered with the British Council and British Film Institute to bring the programme to India. Mumbai is the first stop on McKellens’ global tour as the BFI’s ambassador for Shakespeare Lives on Film.
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